I’ll be the first to admit that A.C. Newman’s solo work has an awful lot in common with his ‘mainstream’ work with The New Pornographers – considering he’s a lead vocalist and songwriter in both projects, I suppose it makes sense that his particular brand of arrhythmic rock-pop would be a common denominator.

The line between the two is particularly blurred when comparing Challengers, TNP’s most recent release, with Newman’s brand new Get Guilty. Before Challengers, The New Pornographers’ sound focussed mainly on tricky rhythms underlining harmonious vocals to form catchy-yet-complex pop hits. Newman’s first solo album, The Slow Wonder, took a different slant on his style of songwriting, delving in heavier electric guitar and some country twang to accompany simpler rhythms and melodies than TNP offered. Challengers reflected a more introspective attitude from The New Pornographers, focussing more on acoustic sounds and single melody lines. And now Get Guilty finds Newman moving his side project towards the New Pornographer’s trademark complex rhythms and melodies, while dressing down the guitars to the acoustic sensibility of Challengers. It basically feels like the two projects are meeting in the middle – sounding to my ears like two parts of the same whole rather than distinct projects in their own right. And honestly, I couldn’t be more content with it (double the TNP is double the fun!), as both albums show the softer, sweeter side of what Newman does best.

A.C. Newman – Prophets
A.C. Newman – The Hearbreak Rides

For comparison’s sake:

The New Pornographers – My Right Versus Yours

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— , January 22, 2009    3 Comments

I love Challengers, especially Adventures in Solitude.
Weirdly, I’ve listened to a lot of Dan Bejar’s stuff, but I’ve never checked out Newman’s solo work. Prophets inspired me to check out the new album, I’m digging it so far.

Kevin, January 22, 2009

Carl Newman is the king of indie pop. His melodies drive me crazy, sooooo good.
Challengers was hugely under looked in 07 i thought.

— Kyle, January 26, 2009

I think I hold the unpopular (at least here) opinion that Challengers was disappointing. It lacked the life of Mass Romantic and Twin Cinema. This Newman album is really growing on me though, loving the track Prophets especially.

Daniel, January 26, 2009